The ‘320 Icelanders’ Project - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The ‘320 Icelanders’ Project

The ‘320 Icelanders’ Project

Published August 12, 2014

Varvara Lozenko is set on photographing 1/1000 of the population

Photo by
Varvara Lozenko

Varvara Lozenko is set on photographing 1/1000 of the population

Fascinated with the Icelandic people after my first visit to the country in 2007, I decided to photograph 320 people with each portrait standing for 1,000 people. To that end I travelled all over the country and took pictures of Icelanders of all ages—young, middle-aged, elderly—from all walks of life—farmers, carpenters, cargo drivers, preachers and bakers.

Now, after four trips to Iceland over a total of five months, I have taken pictures of around 220 people. With the exception of Grimsey island, I have been to and stayed in most parts of the country: Vík and the Westman islands in the South, Höfn in the South-East, Berunes, Egilsstaðir, Husey and Vopnafjörður in the East, Langanes peninsula in the North-East, Akureyri in the North, Siglufjörður in the extreme North, the West Fjörds, Flatey island, Snæfellsnes peninsula in the West and Reykjavík in the South-West…

The time I spent with every photographed person and the information he or she shared with me has varied depending on whether or not the person was in a hurry. Sometimes it was a brief encounter: I would just come up to someone on the street, ask if they would allow me to take a picture of them. Sometimes we would then have coffee and a longer conversation together. Some of my subjects picked me up as a hitchhiker; others provided me with a place to say.

Each encounter has been a unique experience, enriching my life with stories—shorter or longer—for which I am very grateful. Sometimes they would be more inclined to talk about themselves, sometimes more about Iceland in general, sometimes about the world and life in general. And that knowledge is very valuable: it is the knowledge and experience of the people from a country where humans have for the most part learnt to live in peace and respect one another.

Technically, I mostly used a medium format film camera, Yashica Mat 124 G, sometimes (in bad light or harsh and windy weather conditions), a digital Canon. The following are a few photos, a small sampling of my project, which I hope to complete in October after another two months in the country.

Read about the exhibition here.

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